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The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning

The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning [Kindle Edition]

Jonathan Sacks
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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The most persuasive argument for religious belief I have read. (Andrew Marr, BBC Radio 4 Start the Week)

An intelligent, optimistic credo that allows for the happy coexistence of science and religion (The Times)

One of the most engaging thinkers of our time (The Times)

Britain's most authentically prophetic voice (The Daily Telegraph)

Jonathan Sacks's voice carries unique moral authority far beyond the Jewish community (The Tablet)

Product Description

Writing with his usual grace and fluency, Jonathan Sacks moves beyond the tired arguments of militant atheists such as Dawkins and Hitchens, to explore how religion has always played a valuable part in human culture and far from being dismissed as redundant, must be allowed to temper and develop scientific understanding in order for us to be fully human. Ranging around the world to draw comparisons from different cultures, and delving deep into the history of language and of western civilisation, Jonathan Sacks shows how the predominance of science-oriented thinking is embedded deeply even in our religious understanding, and calls on us to recognise the centrality of relationship to true religion, and thus to see how this core value of relationship is essential if we are to avoid the natural tendency for science to rule our lives rather than fulfilling its promise to set us free.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 556 KB
  • Print Length: 381 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0340995254
  • Publisher: Hodder (7 July 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0057MLPOG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,680 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth since September 1, 1991, the sixth incumbent since 1845.

In July 2009, appointed to the House of Lords as a cross-bencher.

Prior to becoming Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Sacks served as Principal of Jews' College, London, the world's oldest rabbinical seminary, as well as rabbi of the Golders Green and Marble Arch synagogues in London. He gained rabbinic ordination from Jews' College and London's Yeshiva Etz Chaim.

His secular academic career has also been a distinguished one. Educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained first class honours in Philosophy, he pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King's College, London. Sir Jonathan has been Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, Sherman Lecturer at Manchester University, Riddell Lecturer at Newcastle University, Cook Lecturer at the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and St. Andrews and Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at Kings' College London. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Bar Ilan, Cambridge, Glasgow, Haifa, Middlesex, Yeshiva University New York, University of Liverpool, St. Andrews University and Leeds Metropolitan University, and is an honorary fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and King's College London. In September 2001, the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred on him a Doctorate of Divinity in recognition of his first ten years in the Chief Rabbinate.

At his installation as Chief Rabbi in 1991, Dr Sacks set out his vision of a reinvigorated Anglo-Jewry and launched it with a Decade of Jewish Renewal, followed by a series of innovative communal projects. These included Jewish Continuity (a national foundation funding programmes in Jewish education and outreach), the Association of Jewish Business Ethics, the Chief Rabbinate Awards for Excellence, the Chief Rabbinate Bursaries, and Community Development, a national programme to enhance Jewish community life. In 1995, he received the Jerusalem Prize for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life. In September 2001 the Chief Rabbi began his second decade of office with a call to Jewish Responsibility and a renewed commitment to the ethical dimension of Judaism. He was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2005. A notably gifted communicator, the Chief Rabbi is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the national press. He frequently delivers BBC RADIO 4's THOUGHT FOR THE DAY, writes a monthly CREDO column for THE TIMES and delivers an annual Rosh Hashanah message on BBC 2. In 1990 he was invited by the BBC Board of Governors to deliver the annual Reith Lectures on the subject of THE PERSISTENCE OF FAITH.

The Dignity of Difference was awarded the 2004 Grawemeyer Prize for Religion, and A Letter in the Scroll a National Jewish Book Award 2002.

Born in 1948 in London, he has been married to Elaine since 1970. They have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila and five grandchildren.


Tradition in an Untraditional Age (1990)

Persistence of Faith (1991)

Arguments for the Sake of Heaven (1991)

Crisis and Covenant (1992)

One People? (1993)

Will We Have Jewish Grandchildren? (1994)

Community of Faith (1995)

Faith in the Future (1998)

The Politics of Hope (1997)

Morals and Markets (1999)

Celebrating Life (2000)

Radical Then, Radical Now (2001)

The Dignity of Difference (2002)

The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah (2003)

From Optimism to Hope (2004)

To Heal a Fractured World (2005)

The Authorised Daily Prayer Book: new translation and commentary (2006)

The Home We Build Together (2007)

Future Tense (2009)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It takes a great mind to reset the at times wearisome debate between science and religion. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks magnum opus achieves this in a book that points primarily to the future of the human race whilst incidentally shedding light on the nature of science and religion and how they can get more into partnership. His prime thesis builds from the widely recognised division of the brain into left and right, analytic and synthetic. This illuminates the separate processes of science, which takes things apart to see how they work, and religion, which puts things together to see what they mean. That insight is harnessed to the conviction that, just as a healthy brain requires the balance of analysis and synthesis, so a right-minded world requires the coming together of science and religion.

Quoting Einstein, `Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind', Sacks tackles both irrationally based religion and the overstepping arrogance of some scientists, appealing for a new alliance of believers and sceptics for the good of humanity. For the sake of our children and their children it is imperative we build the stable families and communities essential to political, economic and environmental sustainability. Religious people have no monopoly on morality, contrary to the views of a minority of religious zealots. Rather, through the humility essential to their vision, people of faith should be ready partners with people of goodwill of all faiths or none in building a healthier world.

The Great Partnership is a deep book, passionate, detailed and yet returning from different routes to the simple and compelling thesis of its title.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful attempt to bring two sides together 30 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have always been impressed by Jonathan Sack's attempts at moderating the extreme views expressed by both Science and Religion. He, quite rightly in my opinion, concerns himself about their vitriolic attacks that can be so dangerous. He would like to see a world where both sides are far more conciliatory which is a view I would subscribe to, so I found this book a welcome 'middle ground' read. Rabbi Sack's message is that both sides have a part to play in understanding our world and neither need to be threatened by the other. I'm not sure if this book would convince any of the hardliners on either side, but if you consider yourself a moderate in the Science verse Religion arena then I highly recommend this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read 14 Dec 2011
Well worth the read for anyone who takes religion and science seriously; doesn't matter whether you're affiliated with Judaism.

Rabbi Sacks's central thesis is that no system contains meaning inherently; it is imposed from without. In this context, he takes it to mean that the physical universe (as governed by laws of nature, which he apparently takes for granted as autonomous) is in itself meaningless; it is only outside agents of sentience (such as religion) which ascribe meaning to it. All attempts to derive meaning from scientific inquiry are thereby futile, and tend to end up in destruction.

The author sees the rationalist effort to "square up" reason with God's apparent position and action opposite us and the universe, as misguided, a development not authentic to Abrahamic monotheism, but rather imported from the culture of ancient Greece. He loosely associates these worldviews with right- and left-brain thinking respectively, and argues that shedding this insistence on linear logic (such as is manifest in the discussion of theodicy) will resolve theo-philosophical tensions.

The author sees the current-day picture of aggressive atheists and stubborn fundamentalists angrily opposing each other as related to messianic politics, and cites the French, Russian and Nazi revolutions as examples of the failure of messianic thinking in treating worldly problems.

This was the best exposition of separate-realm thinking (science and religio-spiritual) that I have read, and through it I was finally able to understand that model. What bothered me most about Rabbi Sacks's approach is his focus on pragmatism as a justification or role-definition for religion.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I've just finished the book and wanted to take a look at the responses it's received on amazon. Quite frankly, I'm rather disappointed.

The criticisms of the lower grade reviews for this novel are taken wildly out of context. I was particularly shocked at reading those from someone supposedly from the University of Cambridge whose review was startingly simplistic and manages to misrepresent Sacks's words with real panache, while simultaneously giving the rather meaningless conclusion: "Like all propaganda, readers' reactions to this book will vary widely depending on the extent to which it chimes with their pre-existing states of mind."

Not only could this phrase essentially apply to anything (rendering it pointless), but it is in itself 'propaganda' to view someone's take and expression of beliefs on the universe and personal journey, who provides a beautifully wide variety of sources and opinions on discussions, as intentionally misleading. It is also a falsehood. The tone of the book is not that of a preacher, it is one of a discussion, one that is led by someone who comes across as well-informed, open-minded and appears very well educated. Sacks's voice is one of tolerance, not seclusion. Of encouraging discussion and debate, rather than wishing to silence. That is the antithesis of propaganda.

Within the book, Sacks gives his opinion to why not only science and philosophy can synthesise with religion, but discusses why he views that both are essential components of the human condition. It is a discussion that is articulated brilliantly and it is consistently engaging for the reader. I would thoroughly recommend it, and advise against being misled by people who are actively seeking to demonise what any open-minded person would regard as a brilliantly written work. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Brilliant ! A must read for anyone reflecting on the path of...
The only fitting comparison I can think of is that of a C.S.Lewis of our time. Jonathan Sacks is definitely one of the greatest thinkers and advocates for faith of this century. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Marketa Crowe Atanasova
5.0 out of 5 stars You must read this.
This was a marvellous book. Filled with wisdom and interesting history of mankind. One of my treasured books of all time.
Published 1 month ago by J M BATE
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and thought provoking
The writer explains why he believes the Jewish people feel so alone in the world politically. He points out from history that they have always been a close knit community, living... Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Miller
2.0 out of 5 stars If you are looking to understand this is not for you
I didn't give this book 1 star because for that I need to "hate it". I do not hate it for it is in not hating that one leaves room for truth to enter. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Geofferz
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
Profound, energetic, lucid and alive. It takes a lifetime of searching to write a book like this! Wide, deep, high...What a gift!
Published 5 months ago by robert enoch
3.0 out of 5 stars God and Science: Is there a conflict?
The book does get three stars as it has a noble agenda. Which is to demonstrate that there is no conflict in believing in God and respecting Science and Scientific investigation. Read more
Published 8 months ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking read
I really enjoyed this book and found it gave me much food for thought. As someone with an interest in the dialogue between science and religion it was refreshing to read something... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Miss G Partridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
A well argued and lucid consideration of the relationship between science and religion. Not written from merely the Jewish perspective; atheists, Christians and Moslems will all... Read more
Published 9 months ago by jimc
5.0 out of 5 stars And What A Partnership!
This was a much-wanted present to a friend who collects the author's works. The writing is, as always, cogent, reasoned, satisfying in its conclusions. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Judith Joseph
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant insight
compelling logic that addresses contemporary arguments against faith A great book by a huge intellect and champion of interfaith cohession Builds a bridge between faith and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. Jonathan Gabay
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Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean. &quote;
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Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean. &quote;
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